All's Fair In Love And...
A/N: Just a little drabble that came to me. Kind of surprising, my second Eleventh Hour fic in nearly as many days. Normally I'm not nearly that industrious. Maybe a new muse was born without my knowledge. Who knows? Anyway, Hood's thoughts on Rachel's human . Not taken from any episode really, just from my head. Can be Jachel or friendship, either way. Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Eleventh Hour or any of its characters, assorted rights, or anything else lawyers can bill me for.
Jacob Hood often observed his bodyguard when he thought she wasn't looking.
He had to observe her when she wasn't looking, because if she was looking, then her professional walls came up again and he couldn't learn anything.
Rachel Young, Special Agent to the FBI, one of the top of her class, never failed an assignment. A determined young woman who was always on top of things, always collected and professional. She never showed weakness, never failed to always follow procedure - although surprisingly intelligent compared to most of the other blockheads the Bureau identified as 'agents'. She was also quite beautiful, but the cold shoulder she gave to anyone who approached her was enough to drive all potential suitors away.
He was her current assignment.
The Bureau had assigned her to protect him shortly after her graduation. He had never really cared for the notion of bodyguards, objecting strenuously to the idea of being followed day and night by some FBI-sanctioned jarhead who thought the extent of science was cutting up a frog in biology class to look at its insides. Thus he had taken certain - steps - to ensure that his freedom would remain uncompromised.
By the time Rachel reached him, he had already gone through five other bodyguards. He viewed her coming with disdain, certain she would be just like all the rest and be gone in a month at the most. He had idly wondered at the desperation of the Bureau, that they were assigning wet-behind-the-ears graduates to him now. Not that it mattered - he had settled in to wait for her to give up in frustration, just like all those who came before her.
But she had surprised him. Right at the outset she had knocked him off balance, simply by her physical appearance. Most of his previous 'protectors' had been large, burly men with no more brains or emotional capacity than a block of wood. Yet here he was, faced with a petite blonde with eyes that actually continued a glimmer of intelligence behind them. It was quite a change.
He soon learned that her intelligence wasn't the only thing hiding behind those icy blue eyes. His new guard dog was also as stubborn as a mule - once she got hold of something, she never let it go. He tried his usual tricks to force her to leave - uncomfortable questions, deliberately disobeying her orders, nothing obvious, but generally making an ass of himself - yet she still grimly hung on. A day, a week, a month. Somewhat unexpectedly, Hood found that he and his young bodyguard had been together for over half a year. A little grudgingly, he accepted that she wasn't going to leave. Almost without realizing, he let his discontent with the situation with the situation begin to fade away, allowing his true self to show through more and more.
In return, her vigilance had lightened up a bit, and she even cracked a joke or two in his presence. He was willing to admit that she wasn't quite the hindrance he'd expected her to be.
Yet despite their growing comfort with around each other, Rachel still refused to let down her walls, still apparently just an invincible FBI agent. The few times something had shaken her badly enough to breach her walls, she had quickly set to work repairing her defenses.
She was an enigma.
She was an enigma, and Jacob Hood was a scientist. So, naturally, he set out to unravel her mysteries.
As he studied her, he found that Rachel was not quite as impervious to everything as she portrayed herself. She was human, and she could feel things beyond frustration, fear, and sarcasm. Despite how hard she tried to hide it, her actions told him in a dozen different ways that beyond her 'professional agent' exterior lay a young woman, one that she hadn't managed to squash completely and had feelings and wants and needs and regrets and vulnerabilities just like any other. He began to delight in drawing that young woman out, in coaxing her to the surface to give him a brief glimpse at the true nature of Rachel Young.
Hood had learned early on that some things about her old self even Rachel couldn't suppress - her sweet tooth, for instance. She nearly always had a box of something sweet and yummy on hand, often absentmindedly popping a few of the brightly colored treats into her mouth as she worked. She took an almost childish delight in the sugary sweets, something Hood found amusing. He set out to discover more of the human side Rachel kept hidden - the innocent young woman she could have been, had she not become so jaded and defensive.
Sometimes what he found surprised even him.
Hood and Rachel were currently driving through the rain in the small, serviceable car they used when on business. They had just wrapped up an especially tough case and the 'boss' (Hood was still not entirely sure exactly who they reported to) had granted them permission to keep the hotel room for the weekend as a sort of 'mini-vacation' to rest and recuperate. Of course, Hood being Hood, was now antsy and bored without a case to occupy him.
" While it was very kind of the Bureau to give us a vacation, it would be much nicer if there was actually some 'vacationing' involved," he complained. " A trip to the Bahamas or something would be nice." He looked up."The Smithsonian might be interesting to visit."
"Mmm-hmm." Rachel murmured without really paying attention..
Surprised his comment did not garner the usual sarcastic retort, Hood glanced at the other occupant of the car. Rachel was curled up next to the window, resting her head against the cool glass and looking surprisingly vulnerable with her hair tumbling about her shoulders. She was staring dreamily at the rain pattering on the glass, her expression far away.
Hood raised an eyebrow at her uncharacteristic behavior, intrigued. He was silent as he drove on, gazing out at the rain as well. After a moment, he spoke.
"So...you like the rain?" It was half a question, half a statement.
Rachel blinked at being addressed, seeming to come back to herself with a start. She replied, "What makes you say that?" Her voice was defensive, as if she had been caught doing something shameful.
Hood deliberately kept his voice mild. " Well, you've been staring out the window with an expression on your face you usually reserve only for your sugar fixes, not to mention you've failed to point out how much of an idiot I am for the last twenty minutes, which implies your attention is somewhere else. Seeing as there's not all that much to look at in the way of scenery, it would be my hypothesis that you are watching the rain." he explained matter-of-factly, shooting her a covert glance.
Rachel shot back almost automatically, " I wouldn't have to point out how much of an idiot you are if you'd stop acting like one." Her scowl deepened. She did not answer the rest of his question, turning from him to stare out the window, thereby hiding her face completely from Hood's inquiring gaze. An awkward silence settled over the two.
Hood was beginning to grow uncomfortable, trying to find a tactful way to break the silence and wishing he hadn't brought the question up, when she finally responded.
"Yeah..." her voice was soft. Hood was confused by her sudden affirmative, but waited patiently for the rest of the explanation. She had turned her head, and although she still wasn't meeting his gaze, he could at least see her face. She continued, "Yeah, I like the rain."
Her eyes were once again a million miles away, her voice quiet and almost reverent. Hood was silent, waiting. He didn't know if it was exhaustion or if Rachel had finally decided to trust him, but she was opening up and he wasn't going to spoil it. Rachel was quiet for a while, but he still waited, knowing here was more coming. When she spoke, her voice was quiet and halting.
" When I was little, I used to love days like this. I remember there was a little girl, Emily, who lived two houses down the street. She was my best friend - we were always getting into mischief. On rainy days, she would drag me outside and we would dance in the rain until our clothes were soaked through."
Rachel laughed briefly, a musical sound, and one that Hood irrationally decided he wanted to hear more often. "I think the neighbors thought we were insane. We'd come in covered with mud, and my mom would scold us - she always hated it whenever I got my clothes dirty. Then we'd wrap up in a blanket while she brought us warm cookies." She gave a sigh, her eyes wistful. " I absolutely loved it. I used to pray it would rain, just so that we could go out and dance in it."
"Sounds like you two were good friends." Hood commented, "Do you still talk to her?"
Rachel shook her head, "No. It's not like anything happened, we just - grew up, I guess. She got married, had a kid. I joined the FBI." She gave a wry smile. "Not exactly conducive to relationships." Hood barely suppressed a wince. He couldn't help but feel partially guilty for Rachel's isolation. Sometimes it was hard to remember that a twenty-four-hour protection detail didn't only impact his life. She went on, "Last I heard, she'd moved away. That was a couple of years ago." Unguarded, she didn't disguise the loneliness evident in her voice - or her eyes.
Rachel fell silent after that. Hood drove on, trying to process what had just happened. He glanced over at her, struck by how vulnerable she seemed in that moment. Vulnerable was not a word he had come to associate with Rachel Young. And try as he might, he couldn't shake the memory of the loneliness in her voice as she spoke of her old friend.
And then it came to him. His brilliant, irrational, insane idea.
Hood cast a critical eye over the road signs, trying to decipher the rain-blurred words. Finally he came to the side for Oak Glen Community Park. He grinned. Perfect.
Hood pulled into the park entrance and turned off the car. He clambered out of the car before Rachel could say a word and opened her door when she was still fumbling with the seat belt, completely ignoring the rain dripping down his back and quickly plastering his sopping curls to his forehead.
Rachel was completely out of her depth, but made up for it marvelously in anger. "Hood." she hissed, "What are you doing?"
Hood did not answer right away, instead shielding his eyes and giving the sky an appraising glance. Gray clouds roiled overhead, but despite the heavy rain there was no lightning or thunder. When he finally glanced back down at Rachel (who had yet to leave the car), there was a smile on his face and a peculiar gentleness in his hazel eyes. "It's raining." he replied simply.
Rachel scowled. "I can see that. What does that have to do with you stopping the car in the middle nowhere?"
"It's not the middle of nowhere." Hood corrected rather meticulously, "It's the community park."
He could see Rachel consciously trying to suppress her anger. "Fine. Why did you stop the car in the community park when it's raining?"
Hood's answer was rather nonchalant. "I thought you liked to dance in the rain."
Rachel's mouth opened in a soft 'O'. He could practically see the angry retort she had prepared draining away. They stayed like that for a moment, he waiting patiently, she confused but slightly touched. Then Rachel drew herself together. "I can't, Hood. I have to protect you, you know that."
Hood was unperturbed by her response, having figured something similar would happen when he proposed the idea. " Protect me from what? The rain? Besides, I distinctly remember the boss saying we had a weekend off."
Her expression was one of exasperation, " From cases, Hood. Not from protection detail. I'm not taking chances with you."
Hood's expression was wheedling, "Oh c'mon, you can't be on the job all the time. Please?" He was practically giving her the puppy dog pout.
Rachel's voice was firm. "I can't Hood. Besides, what if somebody saw?"
Hood had to suppress the urge to roll his eyes. "It's raining. No one else will be here. And so what if someone is? They can be envious."
Rachel snorted. "Oh yes, I'm sure no one will notice that an FBI agent is dancing like a lunatic in a downpour - you know what, I'm not so sure you're not the lunatic here Hood."
Hood ignored the barb, knowing she didn't really mean it. He waited.
Rachel cast him a cutting look. "What would the Bureau say if they found out one of their agents let her charge accost her into dancing in the rain in a public park?"
Hood shrugged and smirked, "We don't have to tell them." His expression was pleading, his hazel eyes boring into her own. He really wanted this.
Rachel matched him stare for stare. The contest continued for several long minutes, before Rachel finally blinked and looked away, apparently unable to come up with any more arguments. Hood repressed a grin. She was weakening. The battle of wills continued for a moment more before Rachel finally laughed helplessly. "You're an idiot." she told Hood.
He grinned, white teeth flashing. "I know." He would gladly be an idiot if it meant hearing her laugh again.
He held out his hand to her, the smile still on his face. "May I have this dance, Special Agent Young?"
Rachel looked at his hand, then at his smile. Her answering smile was like the sun coming up, lighting her blue eyes until Hood had to wonder how he ever thought blue was a 'cool' color. Her smile morphed into a mischievous smirk. "I'll have to think about it." she replied archly. Then she laughed once again, grasping Jacob's hand and letting him pull her to her feet and away from the car.
Hood pushed his dripping curls out of his face, suddenly a little worried now that Rachel was actually going along with his harebrained scheme.
"So," he inquired casually, "You're the expert here. How exactly does one go about dancing in the rain?"
Rachel laughed again, grabbing his hand. "You're hopeless." She pulled him down to the bottom of the grassy hill they stood on, racing through the rain. He stumbled behind, caught unawares by the sudden change in direction. When he finally managed to stop, Rachel caught him before he could fall flat on his face in the mud. He raised his voice over the gusting wind and the rain, "You still haven't answered my question, you know." Rachel poked him in the side. " Quit thinking so much, Hood. Just shut your eyes and feel it. It'll come to you."
She let go of him, dashing to a spot a few feet away, twirling in the rain and sticking out her tongue, trying to catch the raindrops. Hood watched her amusedly for a few moments, before deciding to take her advice. Slowly he closed his eyes, tilting his head back and letting the raindrops strike his unprotected face. He felt a bit silly at first, but gradually the embarrassment faded away, to be replaced by a feeling of absolute peace. slowly he raised his arms, grasping at the rain as if it were a tangible thing he could grasp and hold, to keep this feeling with him forever.
Sploosh. Hood's communion with the rain with the rain was interrupted by a wall of water - very cold, very dirty, and very, very wet. Spluttering in shock, his eyes snapped open, only to see Rachel staring up at him with an 'Oops, caught!' expression. His shocked face quickly faded to one of grinning retribution. Rachel had already begun to run away but Hood caught her, pulling her with him as he jumped into a nearby mud puddle, drenching them both.
Rachel pushed away, laughing, "Hood!"
"All's fair in love and mud-puddle wars." Hood countered. "And besides, you splashed me first."
Rachel's expression grew sly. "Then I guess I'll just have to do - this!" she cried, scooping up a double handful of mud and shoving it with a 'squelch' down the back of his shirt.
"Not fair!" Hood yelled, dancing around crazily as he tried to shake the slimy mud out of his shirt.
"All's fair in love and mud-puddle wars." Rachel mocked, before doubling over in laughter at the sight of Hood doing the high-step while continuously shaking his shirt as if that would somehow help the mud fall out.
Once he got over his mud-dance, Hood took a menacing step towards her shaking form, a vengeful twinkle in his eye. " So you think that's funny, huh?" He tried to growl, but it come out more as a chuckle. Rachel took one look at his expression and squeaked, abandoning her prior laughter in favor of sprinting away from the inevitable mud-bombing that would soon commence.
How long they laughed and danced in the rain, neither one could say. The mud-puddle wars continued for some time before it was decided by mutual agreement to spare their clothes any further distress. That didn't stop the dancing, though, although Rachel nearly collapsed in laughter when Hood apparently decided that he could perform the tango with the rain for a partner. Hood couldn't remember ever having so much fun.
Eventually, when they were both thoroughly exhausted, muddy, and drenched, they decided to call it a night. When they made it back to the hotel, they still had yet to stop laughing.
Hood closed the door behind him, still laughing. "I can't believe I never did that before!"
Rachel smirked at his amazement, "Told you all that science limited your childhood."
Hood pretended to be offended. "Hey, there's nothing wrong with enjoying science!"
Rachel gave an exaggerated roll of her eyes. "Sure."
Hood opened his mouth to protest against the criticism of his beloved science when he sneezed. Rachel sneezed immediately afterwards. Hood raised an eyebrow. "You know, we've probably both got colds now." He pointed out conversationally.
Rachel nodded. "Yeah." She paused, then added, "It was worth it though." She paused again, apparently fighting a quick internal debate. Then she embraced him, filling his nose with the scent of rain and wet earth and woman. "Thanks, Jacob." They stood like that for a second or two before she let go of him as if she had been burned, apparently embarrassed by her display of sentiment, mumbling something about getting a shower.
Hood stayed frozen to the spot, a peculiar mix of emotions swirling inside him. He remembered Rachel's face as she danced, with her blond curls plastered over her face and the rain dripping into her bright blue eyes. A happy smile illuminated her face, and he faintly heard her laughter over the raging storm. "Yes." he murmured, "It was worth it."
Because it is worth it, if it puts a smile on her face. He knows tomorrow everything will be back to normal, and her walls will be back up again and he'll be 'Hood' and she'll be 'Special Agent Young' - but for tonight, she is Rachel and he is Jacob, and that's all they have to be.
A/N: Awww....as I said earlier, can be either Jachel or not, though it was written with Jachel in mind. I know Rachel's a bit OOC - it was intended to be, as she revealed her 'other half'. Was written partly out of my desire to go dance in the rain - now I really wish t was raining so I could. Hope you liked it. Reviews make me smile, but so long as you enjoyed the story that's good enough. Thanks for reading!